Dutchess is a four-piece alternative and stoner rock band from Anchorage, Alaska that combines elements of hard rock, psychedelic rock and math rock. Dutchess have just released a five-song EP titled loveis4losers that is reminiscent of early Kyuss and the likes that is full of heavy, germanium style, muff-based fuzzes and powerful riffs.
The first song of the EP “Hey Girl” begins with a heavy, fuzzed out root to third riff that is soon accompanied by thunderous drums that solidifies the feel of the song. When the vocals enter, the vibe of the song transitions into something more playful and fun, which works really well over the darker instrumentation. Because muff-based fuzzes typically sit below the mix and provide more of a rhythm and background feel, the higher-pitched vocals cut through this mix really well and increase the dynamic range of the song. I think the bass line could be more prominent in this track, however it did not make a significant difference due to the depth of the guitars and drums.
The next track “Selfish” acts like a second part to “Hey Girl” and begins where “Hey Girl” left off— with a lot of feedback. “Selfish” retains a better sense of melody than its predecessor, yet it still contains common elements, such as the heavily fuzzed guitar lines and high-pitched vocals. The guitar tones on this song are very impressive, as they are quite heavy yet are still very articulate when the picking comes in. The instrumentation in the track is very solid, and the transitions are very smooth. The harmonized, tremolo style picking in “Selfish” adds a more psychedelic element to the song, and the coordination of the two guitars in this section is very impressive, as the two guitars stay very well synchronized and on time despite having to pick at such an accelerated rate.
I found the vocal melody in this song to clash a bit with the guitars, as it sounded like they were trying to out-do each other. Unlike the preceding track, the bass line in “Selfish” cuts through the mix very well, and possessed a dirty fuzz tone and melodic phrasing. The production throughout loveis4losers proved to be very solid, as all of the tracks seemed to have properly accentuated guitar and drum parts with heavy bass lines that added depth to the music but did not take over.
Dutchess really exhibits their versatility in the last song of the EP. The song begins very delicately with a pretty picking pattern and a nice added delay on the guitar line. As opposed to the more raucous feedback throughout the EP, Dutchess uses feedback in a more melodic way on “In Colors” allowing it to gradually swell and manipulating it to be in the key of the song. I found the vocals in this song to be a little off-putting and a little too forceful for the rather delicate, gentle instrumentation. It sounded as if the vocal line was made for a song heavier. However, when the bridge hit, the vocals transcended into an airy, reverberated falsetto that added an ambient, psychedelic feel to the song. Once the first section of the song faded out, the song transitioned to a groovy, math rock inspired jam with lots of reverb and overdubbed guitars. The instrumentation and experimentation on this track are something that Dutchess should seriously considering pursuing if they want to make a name for themselves, as it could be what potentially distinguishes themselves from other alternative and stoner rock bands.
If Dutchess wants to pave its own path and distinguish themselves from their competition, they need to emphasize their capability to be versatile. The ability to explore time signatures and manipulate rhythms is something not always come by, especially in stoner rock music, but Dutchess seems to have a talent of untapped talent under their belts that they should continue to explore.
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